Our social life has severely impoverished because of coronavirus epidemic. It is easy to feel, these days, that we are lonesome while trying to follow stay at home orders. Thusly, we started to publish spotlights on coronavirus-inspired stories to reach you and to say you are not alone.
Story of Collective Good
Every day brings a new beginning. It is time to wriggle from our instinctive negativity and learn from each other not only to overcome but also to make these days change for the better. The story of Yolima van den Berkmortel will certainly empower all of us, considering she is one of the strongest fighters who has experienced severely hard times in various ways caused by the pandemic. She virtually opened her doors to us and kindly started to share her story.
Yolima van den Berkmortel is one of the founders of International Creative Women (ICW), which connects, supports, and promotes small creative entrepreneurs in and around Eindhoven since 2018. The community is busy, “focusing on international women after arriving who are trying to adapt and chose to open their business.” Yolima journeyed the process with a good deal of rough fractions. While she was experiencing vanishing of all the effort revealed for the events for the community, phase one was more time interrupted with the loss of her mother, and self isolating herself with with the symptoms similar to COVID-19.
Yolima, vitalized our feelings inside out with her courage and shared the secret of keeping things positive by stating that “Do not worry so much for things that we cannot control. We cannot control the measurements, what other people do, the virus. Maybe we can enjoy more of what we have, and we can control.” She narrates an interesting journey of human emotions from what started as an epidemic to the present: “At the beginning, it was the meme phase when we all laughed and shared funny memes, and then it was denial, worry, and stress, then acceptance and adaptation. It is normal to go through all these feelings. After more than four weeks, it was time to focus on what we have and what we can do in this situation.”
“As Entrepreneurs, we have the ability to Change, Adapt, and Move quickly. And that is what we did.”
“It affected us deeply,” she expressed, “This is not easy for anybody. It is unexpected with the consequences that we couldn’t imagine. We spent the last few months working on a new project – the soft skills training for entrepreneurs and more, which was canceled. Recently, we were supposed to have a big event. But everything had to be called off, and it affected us considerably.”After the adaptation, let’s say, the direction of their works changed naturally.
As ICW, they amazingly created engaging online workshop programs to help people who are stuck in their homes and fight with lots of corona-induced problems. Yolima, along with the ICW community, manifests strength through adversity, “started receiving some messages. People were worried, concerned, and stressed. So, we heard and listened to these women, and that’s why we could create something that could help them directly.”
Even the community aims to help and respond to the need of local women; initially, the project started to go beyond that aim. “Now we have sessions being participated by people from other countries. We have people from France, Italy, Belgium, Latin America, that is amazing, we have men, women, even children doing these workshops. We started to think locally to help local women, but we ended up helping people from so many places with so many different backgrounds.”
“When we work together, we are stronger and we can come up with innovative solutions that can help people,”
Alike the direction of the community and work, now the path of these women also changed. Even as individuals, they became a part of something bigger by discovering the cure by helping others. “They also realize that this can be a savior for them in this crisis time. So now, they are also organizing their programs on their own websites and platforms to keep helping people by offering their services and staying in contact. That’s impressive that there were tools and gaps, and they used it. We cannot be prouder.”
The situation will have some substantial impact on several things in the future for sure. As business matters, it already affected deeply the ways of working, communicating, and selling. “Some of the entrepreneur women sell only in events and markets. So, the current situation showed us that we all need to go digital very quickly because otherwise, we cannot survive,” Yolima predicted. In the overall scenario, ‘what will the disease affect’ is a question with a great number of answers. Yolima commented.
From another angle, this is an entirely economic survival situation for all of us, which we want to see the end. “I also have a business that has slowed down completely. So, that is a really serious problem not only for me but for all entrepreneurs in the community. They are really concerned about their financial situation,” Yolima shared the same opinion. Besides all personal efforts against the Coronavirus, it is always essential to know we are surrounded by systematic support as much as possible. Therefore, the initiatives of governments take a crucial part of this recovery process.
The insights of her regarding the attitude of the government was: “I think that the quick response of the government with the economic measurements and economic package to support people was speedy. It was a moment of confusion; nobody knew whether we were going to be helped as entrepreneurs. But then they came with a big package of measurements. That was very positive.”
Among all these changes and challenges, there is one truth about how we are thankful to people like Yolima, who bite the bullet and guide us for better. “The credit goes to all these women that quickly got together and stepped up to help others when they are concerned about their life and business. All of them together create an amazing thing that we couldn’t do it alone. That is the beauty of this, when we work together, we are stronger, and we can come up with innovative solutions that can help people,” she added.
Thank you, Yolima, and all these talented women who are telling us, “We Are Not Alone!” every day with their limitless endeavor.
We Are In This Together
The adventure of Milagros Maldonado in the Netherlands started 30 years ago when she moved here from Venezuela with her two children. During her time here, she founded El Centro Latinoamericano de Orientación which organises activities and gives information to help with the integration of Latin-American inhabitants of the Netherlands. She also helped the foundation of All Women of Eindhoven community aiming to create more power and pleasure for women by acknowledging and caring each other.
The daily routine of us all changed due to the pandemic. While we are restricted in many areas, we try to develop and liberate ourselves in many new ways, which brings us more creativity. When asked about what she missed most in her life after the epidemic, Milagros answered us as follows: “Being on my own is not a problem. But I miss interacting and people’s energy in my life. I miss activities and life outside.” However, she discovered several ways to keep herself motivated and create a smile on her face. “I do makeup, love to dress. I have my lipstick always next to me. Sometimes I have a glass of wine and cook delicious foods for myself. We share recipes with friends. We compete with our recipes with friends. My gymnastic chair looks at me and invites me all the time. I do family group calls, and we enjoy together,” she said. Making a morning routine, giving positive messages rather than giving negative ones, especially in social media, thinking of your spirit and nourishing your soul are the ways she kindly shared with us to feel free as a bird in the boundary of our homes. Also, most importantly, she added, “You have to think who I can help today. Two or three people. Make a phone call. Think something that you can give to somebody.” One of the best suggestions we have heard to date.
“You have to think who can I help today. Two or three people. Make a phone call. Think something that you can give to somebody.”
“I think the government is doing the best that they can do. They treat us as adult people. You are free to go, and your responsibility is in your hands. It is the typical Dutch way. Your health, family, and country are your responsibilities.” Milagros and we are of a single mind about feeling lucky to be treated that way.
“I bring lots of photos of families and friends when I come here. They are companies of mine. It is good to have photos of people from your past to show your bond to the past. It reflects that you are not on your own, and you have a history.” Never a truer word was spoken.
Milagros has been helping others for more than 20 years. She and her community shoulder to shoulder eluded the rough times for a long time. When we asked how the crisis affect the community works, she explained as “We did not stop to work. Projects are continuing. We are doing phone calls with those who have problems. People have the same questions and problems as in normal life. It can be related to education, children, passport, health. We did not stop to help these questions of the people. Corona is something extra, but life is going on.” Furthermore, she gave us a hint to recover from the situation by helping others with might and foremost: “As individuals, you can look next to you, and you will always find someone who needs help. They do not only need money or goods, but they may need company, phone calls, or something to provide them comfort.” Milagros kindly mentioned the importance of providing accurate information with reputable sources and making lots of different activities available online as the first steps that we can do to help to set the situation right.
“We are part of nature and now nature is changing. The animals are free, birds are happier, space is clean. There are lots of things shifting in nature but we are also nature. Together we are one unity we are going to be clear and clean from inside and outside. Before we have the power to be free, now they have the power to be free. In the end, we will come an equilibrium.”
Our fears, blues, and happiness are the same all around the world these days. As Milagros indicated, we united under the same roof for the first time: “We have lots of problems in the World; wars poverty…But this is new. Everyone has the same subject at the same time.” This makes us more powerful against the difficulties that we are facing and makes us realize how strong we are together. As the last message, she added, “We are in a moment of not know to look back or further. We need to keep it positive. I am sure if people stay at home and do what they need to do, we are going to cross this moment to go back to normal or go to something else.” Thank you Milagros, for the courage that you gave us to find a way to cure ourselves of the scars of this crisis by helping others.
#SpotlightStories are gathered and written by Dilan Sarac, our International Talent. Just a short time ago, she moved to Eindhoven from London. She completed her master’s degree in International Marketing and launched a boutique advertising agency branch during her time in London. Currently, she is working as a Marketing Consultant specializing in omnichannel brand and campaign management. We are delighted to work with her during this campaign, which aims to bring visibility to the positive efforts of individuals and communities during these severe times and to say, “We Are Not Alone!”
We Are Not Alone #SpotlightStories, are presented in collaboration with Expat Spouses Initiative – Eindhoven, LIVING IN , Holland Expat Center & Brainport Eindhoven. Through this campaign, we bring stories of solidarity, kindness, and resilience together in an alliance to the recently launched Corona-Portal by Holland Expat Center South. Stay safe, stay well, and take care!
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